Have you ever experienced a traumatic event and thought – I’ll give myself two weeks to deal with this and then I’ll be back to normal?
I have. More times than I’d like to count.
Today’s Happiness in Progress guest, Mandy Capehart compares that thinking to exactly what we did in the beginning of the pandemic. On a worldwide level, we all agreed we would shut down for two weeks and everything would be good to go after those 14 days.
Well, turns out we needed 14 days then… and I’m willing to be your experience with giving yourself a timeline needed more time too.
Before we get to the good stuff, let me introduce to our guest, Mandy Capehart.
She is an author, speaker, and certified grief and life coach in the Pacific Northwest. She is the founder of The Restorative Grief Project, an online community of grievers and grief supporters looking for movement while they heal.
Her first book is titled, “Restorative Grief: Embracing our losses without losing ourselves” released in 2021.
You can hear more about her grief work on her podcast, Restorative Grief with Mandy Capehart. She also co-hosts The Uncomfortable Grace Podcast, where space is held for growth amid the messy middle-parts of life.
‘Grief Lasts a Lifetime’
As Mandy watched the beginning of the pandemic unfold she shares she “wanted to do something to contribute healing and growth to this generation of trauma that we are watching play out and encountering.”
That’s when she started writing her first book and formed the Restorative Grief Project.
Through her program and book, she hopes to help people align their body, mind and soul as they grieve. Part of this, is to first understand that there is no timeline for grief. There’s no day that the grief will just be over.
Secondary Loss of Oneself
“The more we practice extending grace to one another and drop our expectations of returning to that same self to we were – the more we will realize, we’re not the same person – we’ve lost something.”
Mandy describes that change we personally undergo during a loss – whether we’ve lost a loved one, a job or something else, “We are changed, we are shifted.”
Mandy uses a heart, mind, body and soul model to help people reevaluate their values to find out where they’re out of alignment. She explains, once we can pinpoint that misalignment we can find our way back to ourselves.
Mandy says this is vitally important as we move forward – not only in our grief journey – but in our lives as a whole.
“You can’t move forward if you don’t know the direction you’re heading and you don’t know the direction you’re going if you don’t know who you are.”
While we transform into someone new after loss, Mandy says it comes down to whether we can “accept, appreciate and rejoice” for this new someone that we are.
Create a Nonjudgemental Space for Yourself
As Mandy and I talked about the loss of ourselves – we also delved into how we can make sure we have a nonjudgemental space for ourselves.
Mandy says you can do this by controlling the narrative, remembering your story doesn’t belong to anyone else and that you don’t owe someone your time.
Limit Your Circles
She explains it’s important to limit your circles.
Taking inspiration from Brene Brown and Joan Halifax, Mandy suggests surrounding yourself with a tight circle of three people: the strong back, soft front and wild heart.
She describes them as follows:
Strong back: A friend who will stand up, say ‘no’, create boundaries and enforce the boundaries you’ve already set
Soft front: A friend who shows up, sits with you and can be present
Wild heart: You can call this friend in the middle of the night. This friend will show up for you at all times, take a spontaneous trip with you and allow you to compartmentalize right now
Having this intentional, tight support system, you can control the narrative as the griever.
“We’re extremely intuitive and we know what we need and who we need,” Mandy said.
Anger as a Yellow Light
As we develop emotional intelligence through this experience we can begin to understand “negative” emotions aren’t really negative at all, but rather information.
Mandy likes to see anger as a yellow light. She says instead of vilifying anger or being afraid it will cause bad behaviors and rage – we can see anger as a chance to pause (eh hem – there’s the yellow light).
She explains, emotions are just information.
“Emotions are information. Something is out of alignment, something hurts,” Mandy shares as she likens it to the way our body swells when it’s trying to heal. That is information – as are our emotions.
She says the anger is telling us there’s something beneath this that needs attention. It’s our chance to “pump the breaks,” take a step back and figure out what is fueling that feeling.
Mandy says it could be jealousy, fear, heartbreak, lonliness, trauma, feeling deserted and/or betrayed.
Check out the full episode to hear what I learned about this when my son recently broke out in anger with a group of girls.
There’s so much more in this episode, including:
- Why we need to stop searching for closure
- How to be present in grief
- Why it’s important to stay present with uncomfortable things